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Foliage and acorns of Quercus robur
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fagales
Family: Fagaceae
Genus: Quercus

See List of Quercus species

An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus (pronounced /ˈkwɜrkəs/;[1] Latin "oak tree"), of which about 600 species exist on earth. "Oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus. The genus is native to the northern hemisphere, and includes deciduous and evergreen species extending from cold latitudes to tropical Asia and the Americas.

Oaks have spirally arranged leaves, with a lobed margin in many species; some have serrated leaves or entire leaves with a smooth margin. The flowers are catkins, produced in spring. The fruit is a nut called an acorn, borne in a cup-like structure known as a cupule; each acorn contains one seed (rarely two or three) and takes 6–18 months to mature, depending on species. The live oaks are distinguished for being evergreen, but are not actually a distinct group and instead are dispersed across the genus.



Oak trees are flowering plants. The genus is divided into two subgenera and a number of sections:

Subgenus Quercus

The Subgenus Quercus is divided into the following sections:

  • Sect. Quercus (synonyms Lepidobalanus and Leucobalanus), the white oaks of Europe, Asia and North America. Styles are short; acorns mature in 6 months and taste sweet or slightly bitter; the inside of acorn shell is hairless. The leaves mostly lack a bristle on their lobe tips, which are usually rounded.
  • Sect. Mesobalanus, Hungarian oak and its relatives of Europe and Asia. Styles long; acorns mature in about 6 months and taste bitter; the inside of acorn shell is hairless. The section Mesobalanus is closely related to section Quercus and sometimes included in it.
  • Sect. Cerris, the Turkey oak and its relatives of Europe and Asia. Styles long; acorns mature in 18 months and taste very bitter. The inside of the acorn shell is hairless. Its leaves typically have sharp lobe tips, with bristles at the lobe tip.
  • Sect. Protobalanus, the Canyon live oak and its relatives, in southwest United States and northwest Mexico. Styles short, acorns mature in 18 months and taste very bitter. The inside of the acorn shell appears woolly. Leaves typically have sharp lobe tips, with bristles at the lobe tip.
  • Sect. Lobatae (synonym Erythrobalanus), the red oaks of North America, Central America and northern South America. Styles long, acorns mature in 18 months and taste very bitter. The inside of the acorn shell appears woolly. The actual nut is encased in a thin, clinging, papery skin. Leaves typically have sharp lobe tips, with spiny bristles at the lobe.

Subgenus Cyclobalanopsis

  • The ring-cupped oaks of eastern and southeastern Asia. Evergreen trees growing 10–40 m tall. They are distinct from subgenus Quercus in that they have acorns with distinctive cups bearing concrescent rings of scales; they commonly also have densely clustered acorns, though this does not apply to all of the species. The Flora of China treats Cyclobalanopsis as a distinct genus, but most taxonomists consider it a subgenus of Quercus. It contains about 150 species.
A hybrid white oak, possibly Quercus stellata × Q. muhlenbergii


Interspecific hybridisation is quite common among oaks, but usually only between species within the same section and most common in the white oak group (subgenus Quercus, section Quercus; see List of Quercus species). Inter-section hybrids, except between species of sections Quercus and Mesobalanus, are unknown. Recent systematic studies appear to confirm a high tendency of Quercus species to hybridize because of a combination of factors. White oaks are unable to discriminate against pollination by other species in the same section because they are wind pollinated and they have weak internal barriers to hybridisation, hybridization produces functional seeds and fertile hybrid offspring.[2] Ecological stresses, especially near habitat margins, can also cause a breakdown of mate recognition as well as a reduction of male function (pollen quantity and quality) in one parent species.[2][3]

Frequent hybridisation among oaks has consequences for oak populations around the world; most notably, hybridization has produced large populations of hybrids with copious amounts of introgression, and the evolution of new species.[4] Frequent hybridisation and high levels of introgression have caused different species in the same populations to share up to 50% of their genetic information.[5] The high rates of hybridisation and introgression, produces genetic data that often does not differentiate between two clearly morphologically distinct species, but instead differentiates populations.[6] Numerous hypotheses have been proposed to explain how oak species are able to remain morphologically and ecologically distinct with such high levels of gene flow, but the problem is still largely a mystery to botanists.

The Fagaceae, or oak family, is a very slowly evolving clade compared to other angiosperms,[7][8] and the hybridisation patterns in Quercus pose a great challenge to the concept of a species.[citation needed] A species is often defined as a group of “actually or potentially interbreeding populations which are reproductively isolated from other such groups.”[9] By this definition, many species of Quercus would be lumped together according to their geographic and ecological habitat, despite clear distinctions in morphology and, to a large extent, genetic data. Thus, although it may be difficult to place a definition on a species within a genus like Quercus, it is trivial and uninformative to apply the biological species concept to all forms of life.[citation needed]


Oak wood has a density of about 0.75 g/cm³, great strength and hardness, and is very resistant to insect and fungal attack because of its high tannin content. It also has very attractive grain markings, particularly when quartersawn. Wide, quarter-sawn boards of oak have been prized since the Middle Ages for use in interior paneling of prestigious buildings such as the debating chamber of the British House of Commons in London, England, and in the construction of fine furniture. Oak wood, from Quercus robur and Quercus petraea, was used in Europe for the construction of ships, especially naval men of war, until the 19th century, and was the principal timber used in the construction of European timber-framed buildings. Today oak wood is still commonly used for furniture making and flooring, timber frame buildings, and for veneer production. Barrels in which red wines, sherry, brandy and spirits such as Scotch whisky and Bourbon whiskey are aged are made from European and American oak. The use of oak in wine can add many different dimensions to wine based on the type and style of the oak. Oak barrels, which may be charred before use, contribute to the colour, taste, and aroma, of the contents, imparting a desirable oaky vanillin flavour to these drinks. The great dilemma for wine producers is to choose between French and American oakwoods. French oaks (Quercus robur, Q. petraea) give the wine greater refinement and are chosen for best wines since they increase the price compared to those aged in American oak wood.[10] American oak contributes greater texture and resistance to ageing, but produces more violent wine bouquets.[10] Oak wood chips are used for smoking fish, meat, cheeses[11][12] and other foods.

Sherry maturing in oak barrels
A cross section of the trunk of a cork oak, Quercus suber

The bark of Quercus suber, or Cork oak, is used to produce wine stoppers (corks). This species grows in the Mediterranean Sea region, with Portugal, Spain, Algeria and Morocco producing most of the world's supply. Of the North American oaks, the Northern red oak Quercus rubra is the most prized of the red oak group for lumber, all of which is marketed as red oak regardless of the species of origin. It is not good for outdoor use due to the open capillaries. One can blow air through an end grain piece 10 inches long to make bubbles come out in a glass of water. These opening give fungus easy access when the finish deteriorates. The standard for the lumber of the white oak group, all of which is marketed as white oak, is the White Oak Quercus alba. White Oak is often used to make wine barrels. The wood of the deciduous Pedunculate Oak Quercus robur and Sessile Oak Quercus petraea account for most of the European oak production, but evergreen species, such as Holm oak Quercus ilex, and Cork oak Quercus suber also produce valuable timber.

The bark of the White Oak is dried and used in medical preparations. Oak bark is also rich in tannin, and is used by tanners for tanning leather. Acorns are used for making flour or roasted for acorn coffee. Oak galls were used for centuries as the main ingredient in manuscript ink, harvested at a specific time of year.

Japanese oak is used in the making of professional drums from manufacturer Yamaha Drums. The rough, hard surface of oak gives the drum a brighter and louder tone compared to traditional drum materials such as maple and birch.[citation needed]


Truffle (fungi) have symbiotic relationships with oak and beech.[13]

Diseases and pests

Oak Mildew on Pedunculate Oak.

Sudden Oak Death (Phytophthora ramorum) is a water mould that can kill oaks within just a few weeks. Oak Wilt, caused by the fungus Ceratocystis fagacearum (a fungus closely related to Dutch Elm Disease), is also a lethal disease of some oaks, particularly the red oaks (the white oaks can be infected but generally live longer). Other dangers include wood-boring beetles, as well as root rot in older trees which may not be apparent on the outside, often only being discovered when the trees come down in a strong gale. Oak apples are galls on oaks made by the gall wasp. The female kermes scale causes galls to grow on kermes oak. Oaks are used as food plants by the larvae of Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) species such as the Gypsy Moth, Lymantria dispar, which can defoliate oak and other broadleaved tree species in North America.[14]

A considerable number of galls are found on oak leaves, buds, flowers, roots, etc. Examples are Oak artichoke gall, Oak Marble gall, Oak apple gall, Knopper gall, and Spangle gall.


The leaves and acorns of the oak tree are poisonous to cattle, horses, sheep, and goats in large amounts due to the toxin tannic acid, and cause kidney damage and gastroenteritis. Additionally, once livestock have a taste for the leaves and acorns, they may seek them out. Symptoms of poisoning include lack of appetite, depression, constipation, diarhea (which may contain blood), blood in urine, and colic. The exception to livestock and oak toxicity is the domestic pig, which may be fed entirely on acorns in the right conditions, and has traditionally been pastured in oak woodlands (such as the Spanish dehesa and the English system of pannage) for hundreds of years. Acorns are also edible to humans in processed form, and are a staple part of the forage consumed by wildlife.

Cultural significance

Oak branches on the coat of arms of Estonia

Political or symbolic

The oak is a common symbol of strength and endurance and has been chosen as the national tree of England, Estonia, France, Germany, Moldova, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the United States, Basque Country, Wales, Bulgaria and Serbia.[citation needed] Iowa has designated the oak as its official state tree in 1961, and the White Oak is the state tree of Connecticut, Illinois and Maryland. The Northern Red Oak is the provincial tree of Prince Edward Island, as well as the state tree of New Jersey. The Live Oak is the State Tree of Georgia.

The oak is the emblem of County Londonderry in Northern Ireland, as a vast amount of the county was covered in forests of the tree until relatively recently. The name of the county comes from the city of Derry, which originally in Irish was known as Doire meaning oak.

Oak leaves are traditionally an important part of German Army regalia. They also symbolize rank in the United States Armed Forces. A gold oak leaf indicates an O-4 (Major or Lt. Commander), whereas a silver oak leaf indicates an O-5 (Lt. Colonel or Commander). Arrangements of oak leaves, acorns and sprigs indicate different branches of the United States Navy Staff corps officers. Oak leaves are embroidered onto the covers worn by field grade officers and flag officers in the United States armed services.

The oak tree is used as a symbol by a number of political parties. It is the symbol of the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom[15], and formerly of the Progressive Democrats in Ireland[16]. In the cultural arena, the oakleaf is the symbol of the National Trust (UK) and The Royal Oak Foundation.

The Oak tree is traditionally sacred to Serbs and is widely used throughout Serbia on national and regional symbols both old and new.[citation needed]


In Celtic mythology, it is the tree of doors, believed to be a gateway between worlds, or a place where portals could be erected.[citation needed]

In Norse mythology, the oak was sacred to the thunder god, Thor. Some scholars speculate that this is because the oak, as the largest tree in northern Europe, was the one most often struck by lightning. Thor's Oak was a sacred tree of the Germanic Chatti tribe. Its destruction marked the Christianisation of the heathen tribes by the Franks[citation needed].

In Classical mythology, the oak was a symbol of Zeus and his sacred tree. An example is the oracle of Dodona, which in prehistory consisted solely of a holy oak.[citation needed]

In the Bible, the oak tree at Shechem is the site where Jacob buries the foreign gods of his people (Gen. 35:4) . In addition, Joshua erects a stone under an oak tree as the first covenant of the Lord (Josh. 24.25-7). In Isaiah 61, the prophet refers to the Israelites as "Oaks of Righteousness".


Several individual oak trees, such as the Royal Oak in Britain and the Charter Oak in the United States, are of great historical or cultural importance; for a list of important oaks, see Individual oak trees.

"The Proscribed Royalist, 1651", a famous painting by John Everett Millais, depicted a Royalist fleeing from Cromwell's forces and hidden in an oak. Millais painted the picture in Hayes, Kent, from a local oak tree that became known as the Millais Oak.[17]

The city of Raleigh, N.C. is known as "The City of Oaks."

Historical note on Linnaean species

Linnaeus described only five species of oak from eastern North America, based on general leaf form. These were White oak, Quercus alba; Chestnut oak, Q. Montana; Red oak, Q. rubra; Willow oak Q. phellos; and Water oak, Q. nigra. Because he was dealing with confusing leaf forms, the Q. prinus and Q. rubra specimens actually included mixed foliage of more than one species. For that reason, some taxonomists in the past proposed different names for these two species (Q. montana and Q. borealis, respectively), but the original Linnaean names have now been lectotypified by removing some of the specimens in Linnaeus' herbarium.


See also


  1. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  2. ^ a b Williams, Joseph H., William J. Boecklen, and Daniel J. Howard. 2001 Reproductive processes in two oak (Quercus) contact zones with different levels of hybridisation. Heredity 87: 680–690.
  3. ^ Arnold, M. L. 1997. Natural Hybridization and Evolution. Oxford University Press, New York.
  4. ^ Conte, L., Cotti, C., and Cristofolini, G. 2007 Molecular evidence for hybrid origin of Quercus crenata Lam. (Fagaceae) from Q-cerris L. and Q-suber L. Plant Biosystems 141 (2): 181–193.
  5. ^ Gomory, D. and Schmidtova, J. 2007 Extent of nuclear genome sharing among white oak species (Quercus L. subgen. Lepidobalanus (Endl.) Oerst.) in Slovakia estimated by allozymes. Plant Systematics and Evolution 266 (3-4): 253–264.
  6. ^ Kelleher, CT., TR Hodkinson, GC Doublas, and DL Kelly. 2005 Species distinction in Irish populations of Quercus petraea and Q. robur: Morphological versus molecular analyses. Annals of Botany 96 (7): 1237–1246.
  7. ^ Frascaria, N., L. Maggia, M. Michaud, and J. Bousquet. 1993 The RBCL Gene Sequence from Chestnut Indicates a Slow Rate of Evolution in the Fagaceae. Genome 36 (4): 668–671.
  8. ^ Manos, PS., AM Stanford. 2001b The historical biogeography of Fagaceae: Tracking the tertiary history of temperate and subtropical forests of the Northern Hemisphere. International Journal of Plant Sciences 162: S77-S93 Suppl. 6.
  9. ^ Raven, Peter H., George B. Johnson, Jonathan B. Losos, Susan R. Singer. Biology: Seventh Edition. McGraw Hill, New York, NY 2005.
  10. ^ a b (Spanish) La crianza del vino La Razón 23 de Agosto de 2007
  11. ^ 200g Oak Smoked Wensleydale – Williams Deli – tearoom richmond north
  12. ^
  13. ^ Tree News Autumn/Winter 2007 page 30
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ Millais, J.G., Life and Letters of Sir John Everett Millais, vol. 1, p.166; See also Arborecology, containing a photograph of the Millais oak


  • Byfield, Liz (1990) An oak tree, Collins book bus, London : Collins Educational, ISBN 0-00-313526-8
  • Logan, William B. (2005) Oak : the frame of civilization, New York ; London : W.W. Norton, ISBN 0-393-04773-3
  • Paterson, R.T. (1993) Use of trees by livestock, 5: Quercus, Chatham : Natural Resources Institute, ISBN 0-85954-365-X
  • Royston, Angela (2000) Life cycle of an oak tree, Heinemann first library, Oxford : Heinemann Library, ISBN 0-431-08391-6
  • Savage, Stephen (1994) Oak tree, Observing nature series, Hove : Wayland, ISBN 0-7502-1196-2
  • Tansley, Arthur G., Sir (1952) Oaks and oak woods, Field study books, London : Methuen, 50 p.

External links

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010
(Redirected to The Oak article)

From Wikisource

The Oak
by Alfred Tennyson

Live thy Life,
Young and old,
Like yon oak,
Bright in spring,
Living gold;

Then; and then
Gold again.

All his leaves
Fall'n at length,
Look, he stands,
Trunk and bough
Naked strength.

PD-icon.svg This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010
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Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

An oak (1)



Wikipedia has an article on:



From Old English āc, from Germanic *aiks. Cognate with West Frisian iik or eek, Dutch eik, German Eiche, Danish eg, Swedish ek, Norwegian eik.




countable and uncountable; plural oaks

oak (countable and uncountable; plural oaks)

  1. (countable) A tree of the genus Quercus, bearing acorns and having lobed leaves.
  2. (uncountable) The wood of the oak.
  3. (colour) a rich brown colour, like that of oak wood.
    oak colour:    



The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


oak (not comparable)


not comparable

none (absolute)

  1. Made from the wood of the oak tree
  2. (colour) of a rich brown colour, like that of oak wood.



Derived terms

See also



Up to date as of January 23, 2010
(Redirected to Quercus article)

From Wikispecies


Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: core eudicots
Cladus: Rosids
Cladus: Eurosids I
Ordo: Fagales
Familia: Fagaceae
Genus: Quercus
Subgenera: Q. subg.  Cyclobalanopsis - Q. subg. Quercus - incertae sedis


Quercus L.

Vernacular names

Aragonés: Caxico
Bahasa Indonesia: Ek
Български: Дъб
Català: Roure
Česky: Dub
Српски / Srpski: Храст
Dansk: Eg
Deutsch: Eichen
Eesti: Tamm
Ελληνικά: Βελανιδιά
English: Oaks
Español: Roble
Esperanto: Kverko
Euskara: Haritz
Français: Chêne
Frysk: Iik
Galego: Carballo
한국어: 참나무
Italiano: Quercia
עברית: אלון
Kernowek: Derow
Kreyòl ayisyen: Chèn
Latviešu: Ozols
Lietuvių: Ąžuolas
Nāhuatl: Teōcuahuitl
Nederlands: Eik
Nedersaksisch: Eek
日本語: オーク
‪Norsk (bokmål)‬: Eik
‪Norsk (nynorsk)‬: Eik
Nouormand: Tchêne
Occitan: Casse
Polski: Dąb
Português: Carvalho
Русский: Дуб
Slovenčina: Dub
Slovenščina: Hrast
Suomi: Tammet
Svenska: Ekar
Türkçe: Meşe
Українська: Дуб
Walon: Tchinne
West-Vlams: Êke
ייִדיש: דעמב
中文: 櫟屬
Wikimedia Commons For more multimedia, look at Quercus on Wikimedia Commons.

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

There are six Hebrew words rendered "oak.":

(1.) 'El occurs only in the word El-paran (Gen 14:6). The LXX. renders by "terebinth." In the plural form this word occurs in Isa 1:29; Isa 57:5 (A.V. marg. and R.V., "among the oaks"); Isa 61:3 ("trees"). The word properly means strongly, mighty, and hence a strong tree.

(2.) 'Elah, Gen 35:4, "under the oak which was by Shechem" (R.V. marg., "terebinth"). Isa 6:13, A.V., "teil-tree;" R.V., "terebinth." Isa 1:30, R.V. marg., "terebinth." Absalom in his flight was caught in the branches of a "great oak" (2 Sam 18:9; R.V. marg., "terebinth").

(3.) 'Elon, Jdg 4:11; Jdg 9:6 (R.V., "oak;" A.V., following the Targum, "plain") properly the deciduous species of oak shedding its foliage in autumn.

(4.) 'Elan, only in Dan 4:11ff rendered "tree" in Nebuchadnezzar's dream. Probably some species of the oak is intended.

(5.) 'Allah, Josh 24:26. The place here referred to is called Allon-moreh ("the oak of Moreh," as in R.V.) in Gen 12:6 and Gen 35:4.

(6.) 'Allon, always rendered "oak." Probably the evergreen oak (called also ilex and holm oak) is intended. The oak woods of Bashan are frequently alluded to (Isa 2:13; Ezek 27:6). Three species of oaks are found in Palestine, of which the "prickly evergreen oak" (Quercus coccifera) is the most abundant. "It covers the rocky hills of Palestine with a dense brushwood of trees from 8 to 12 feet high, branching from the base, thickly covered with small evergreen rigid leaves, and bearing acorns copiously." The so-called Abraham's oak at Hebron is of this species. Tristram says that this oak near Hebron "has for several centuries taken the place of the once renowned terebinth which marked the site of Mamre on the other side of the city. The terebinth existed at Mamre in the time of Vespasian, and under it the captive Jews were sold as slaves. It disappeared about A.D. 330, and no tree now marks the grove of Mamre. The present oak is the noblest tree in Southern Palestine, being 23 feet in girth, and the diameter of the foliage, which is unsymmetrical, being about 90 feet."

See also Teil tree.

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

what mentions this? (please help by turning references to this page into wiki links)

Simple English

Foliage and acorns of Quercus robur
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fagales
Family: Fagaceae
Genus: Quercus

The oak tree is a kind of hardwood forest tree. Oak trees come in many different kinds of species, but all of them have large seeds called acorns. There are over 300 varieties over oak trees.[1]

Oak trees grow all over many parts of Europe and North America. Many people who own wooded land in these parts of the world are proud of their oak trees. Oak is a climax vegetation in much of the Northern Hemisphere. What that means is, left untouched by humans, it would be the dominant tree. Much of England was covered by oak forests before modern farming took over the land. The last extensive oak woodlands were cut down to build ships for the Royal Navy in the 18th century.

Some kinds of oak wood are very hard. A lot of furniture was made from oak wood, but the wood is now scarce and expensive. Much cheaper are softwoods like pine.

Most oak trees lose all of their leaves in autumn. A special kind of oak tree, the "live oak", grows in the American South. It is called the "live oak" because it keeps many of its leaves over the winter.

Oak trees can live up to 1000 years. [2]


Main article:Acorn

Oak trees can start producing acorns when they are 20 years old. However they may reach 50 years before the first production. When the tree is between 70 and 80 years old it produces thousands of acorns.[3]

Oak trees produce acorns once a year in Autumn. The production changes every year. Not even the healthiest and largest oak have enough energy to produce a lot of them two years in succession.



Look up Quercus in Wikispecies, a directory of species

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